Oromia 11 Stars, a Cinderella Team?
In sport, Cinderella stories, those of unexpected teams succeeding, likely to hit a brick at the quarterfinal, or at most the semifinal. Oromia 11 Stars (O-11 Stars) of Minnesota surpassed both.
In the first game, the speedy players of O-11 Stars netted eight goals on Qeeransaa of Portland. In the second game, they played a much more competitive game versus Barisaa Afran Qaloo of Atlanta, winning 3 to 2. One game before the playoffs started, O-11 stars went flat, losing 4 to 0 to the Risaa of Minnesota. Due to the weak division they were in, they were still able to advance to the playoffs despite the fact that they lost their last game.
They played the first playoff game against last year’s runner up, Utaa Waayyuu (UW) of Minnesota. UW was one of the favorites to win the 2011 OSFNA championship after the defending champ, Dire Dawa, was ousted in the first round. Assessing the strength of their division, UW players expected an easy run for the championship, but O-11 Stars had different game plans.
The game was played at 4:00 P.M. in humid, 90-degree heat. Twenty minutes into the game, O-11 Stars netted their first goal, shocking UW players and fans. Ten minutes into the second half, they scored another goal. By this time, UW was in desperate need of a goal, and took a shot at the net every chance they got. O-11 Stars continued to deflect their shots and kicked the ball out of bounds presumably to waste time. This ended up being a poor choice since the midfielder for UW, Furo Tufa, is best known for throwing the ball by hand inside the goal. That is when UW got their best chance. UW scored two goals on hand throws from the corner: one, which was scored on a header and the other on a deflection.
The tied score invigorated UW players and fans. O-11 Stars fans kept cheering their team on, even though most of the people in the stadium thought that UW would take the game. Five minutes to the final whistle, the O-11 Stars forward took advantage of a defensive mistake and scored the game winning goal.
Utaa Waayyuu, desperately in need of a goal in order to take the game to overtime, got pair of corner kicks. It was then that a grand controversy emerged. One of the O-11 Stars players was injured and was helped off the field due to complaints from a UW coach. Then, the coach asked the referee to sub in for the injured player. On the last minute corner kick, the player that was injured earlier got back into the game not knowing he was subbed out. The UW coach was screaming at the referee to complain that there were 12 men on the field, but the ref couldn’t hear him. UW kicked the corner and O-11 Stars player who got back to the game after he was subbed out kicked out the ball. The referee blew the final whistle at which the O-11 Stars ran off the field in celebration.
The next game was with Madda Walaabuu of Seattle. Seattle beat Risaa of Minnesota 3-2. Seattle, the 2007 champs, had Zigla, aka Jillo, one of the best and highest-scoring leaders of the 2011 tournament. It was a hard-matched game between the two. The game ended up going into double overtime, and then a shoot out. The Cinderella team again was victorious, making all of their shots.
The championship game was against another team that was considered to be the best in this year’s tournament – 10,000 Lakes of Minnesota. The 10,000 Lakes were impressive every step throughout the tournament, beating OU Gold and OU to advance to the championship. It was the first championship game for both young teams and for both, winning was the ultimate goal.
The championship game had the highest turnout of all games in the tournament. For the previous sixteen years, it was an older team that won the championship, but this year it was a different story. Both O-11 Stars and 10,000 Lakes were excited to play in their first championship game.
Ten minutes into the game, one of 10,000 Lakes’ players touched the ball with his hand, thinking that the whistle blew (which many people also believed happened), giving the Cinderella team a chance to lead in the biggest game of their emerging career (Watch the video below). O-11 Stars scored easily on a Penalty kick (PK). The game went scoreless for the rest of the way. At the final whistle, 10,000 players lay on the field in disbelief while the Cinderella team ran around the field celebrating
Congratulations to Oromia 11 Stars of Minnesota!
Who will be the Cinderella team in 2012?
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Watch short clips from the 2011 OSFNA finals.